Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and early preparation is the KEY to a successful holiday for your guests AND YOU. Below is our list of the Top 8 things to get done during the weekend before Thanksgiving. We hope our suggestions will help you get and stay organized during the crazy lead-up to Turkey Day.
Make a list of all the foods you’re preparing and write down the serving dishes and utensils each dish will require. Check your inventory and purchase any items you may need.
Plan which LINENS (tablecloth, napkins, etc.) you will be using, and wash/iron them this weekend or purchase new ones if needed.
Check your storage container and plastic bag inventory and stock up if necessary.
Clean out your refrigerator and pantry to make sure you have ample room to store the ingredients and completed dishes.
Review your recipes, prepare your grocery list and do most of your shopping this weekend.
Check the timing for each recipe to determine what can be done in advance, and schedule the time on your calendar for each recipe.
If you plan to buy a frozen turkey, it has to be purchased this weekend to allow ample time for thawing. You’ll need about 1 pound of uncooked turkey for each guest.
Two events that have captured our interest are centered around two classic Scandinavian specialties. featuring lefse demonstrations between 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM, and krumkake demonstrations between 1:00 – 3:00 PM.
My grandfather was 100% Norwegian, and we enjoyed lefse at every Christmas Eve gathering when I was growing up. Even though he passed away ten years ago, lefse remains on the menu as a wonderful reminder of how proud he was of his Nordic heritage.
I know for sure that I will be attending the krumkake demonstration, as this Nordic specialty already happens to be on my list of new holiday treats to make this year. My mother made krumkake every year at Christmastime, and we used to love helping her roll them up – there was always an air of excitement around this activity, which required a certain skill in timing.
If we waited just a moment too long, the krumkake would harden and become difficult to roll. My sister, Carolyn, and I would race to see who could make the best-looking krumkake, but the winner was always my mom, who made everything she did in the kitchen look easy.
This week the stars aligned for us and we found no difficulty when deciding which recipe to feature. With the Thanksgiving holiday now behind us, it only seems appropriate to offer a suggestion on what to do with your leftover turkey. And our recipe for Turkey Crepes is a great alternative to the standard fare.
“Most leftover turkey is either just reheated or turned into a sandwich, and that’s fine,” says Tony. “But this recipe allows you to be more creative with your leftovers. It’s elegant, different, simple. And delicious.”
Tony created this recipe for a cooking class he was teaching back in 2008, and it has become our go-to “leftover turkey” dish ever since. We have to admit, we’re fairly spoiled on this holiday. Tony, with his mad knife skills, carves the turkey, I bring the Cranberry Sauce, and my sister-in-law (another Sarah) bakes three to four different pies from scratch.
But my mother does nearly all of the cooking, and she’s a bit of a culinary magician to me. Somehow, she manages to serve at least a half-dozen side dishes in addition to the turkey, and still manages to get herself and all that food to the table hot, and on time. And she always makes sure that we leave with some leftovers. What’s not to love about Thanksgiving?
We serve lunch every Friday at Sarello’s, with the exception of the day after Thanksgiving. It is one of the few days of the year that my husband will actually sleep in, a result, I suspect, of all that tryptophan. So there isn’t a lot of time to hang out together before it’s time for him to get ready for the evening service. And that’s why I love this recipe. The preparation is quick and simple, and if you aren’t familiar with making crepes, you can find them available, pre-made, in the produce section of our local grocery stores.
The ingredient that makes this recipe special is the Pistachio Pesto. Its brightness, texture, and nutty flavor make the dish come alive. It’s also easy to make, and can be done the night before, or even up to a week in advance if refrigerating. And any leftover pesto can be frozen for up to two months.
We spread the pesto along the inside of each crepe before assembling them, which you can do right before you start cooking. After you’ve finished preparing the crepes, lay them on a sheet pan and set aside till later.
Using a sauté pan, the next step is to heat up the leftover turkey, mixing in heavy cream and Fontina cheese to add flavor and keep it moist.
“Fontina is a great choice for this recipe. It’s Italian, so there’s that, but it also has really great flavor and melting properties. Fontina is a mild, nutty cheese, with an undertone of tanginess that brings a little extra zing to this dish.”
Once the cream has reduced and the cheese is melted, spoon the turkey mixture onto each crepe and roll it up, returning it to the sheet pan when done. Pop the tray into a 350°F oven for two to three minutes just to warm the crepes, and voila! They’re ready to serve.
“And you know, the turkey doesn’t want to be alone, so give it some company on the plate,” Tony says. “You can utilize leftover cranberry sauce by warming it up first and then drizzling some right down the middle of each crepe before serving. This adds a burst of color and its sweetness brings a nice contrast in flavor to the dish. ”
This recipe can also be enjoyed throughout the year by using a whole turkey breast instead of leftovers.
So set aside the plan for sandwiches and give these Turkey Crepes a try. We think you’ll just gobble them up!
Excerpts of this post have been published in the Wednesday, November 14, 2012 edition of The Forum, and can be found here: Home with The Lost Italian.
We were pleased to learn that our debut column in our local newspaper, The Forum, would coincide perfectly with Tony’s favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. As America’s favorite feasting tradition, the Thanksgiving holiday boasts a bounty of recipes to choose from; finding a topic for our first column would be easy. Ha! After days of rejecting idea after idea, and more than one exasperated eye roll toward each other (more from me, I confess), we soon realized that this bountiful holiday presented more of a challenge for us than we’d anticipated.
After reviewing our previous menus for Thanksgiving-themed cooking classes, as well as countless magazines and cookbooks, the only thing we agreed on was that we would never agree on a single recipe. How do you condense this great American holiday into one recipe? The answer: we can’t. So we decided to compromise. We’d each pick one dish to showcase, with the agreement that we had to choose a dish that encompassed as many Thanksgiving flavors as possible.
Once we’d made our decisions, it was time to get to work. We sat down, turned on Vince Guaraldi’s Charlie Brown tunes to set the holiday mood, and talked for over two hours about Thanksgiving, what we love about this holiday, and why we chose our recipes.
Stuffed Turkey Breast
As I mentioned earlier, Tony loves the Thanksgiving feast, and not just because his mother-in-law does all the cooking.
“To me, Thanksgiving represents the ultimate in tradition: nearly every family celebrates with turkey, cranberries, sweet potatoes, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy…the works. And I love that! Tradition is very important in Italian culture, as are food and family, so I embrace everything this holiday is about. And I don’t even miss the pasta!”
Tony often likes to take a familiar tradition and try to give it new life, and that’s just what he’s done with his recipe for Stuffed Turkey Breast.
“This recipe is my spin on a classic Thanksgiving dinner. I like it because it incorporates the flavors of the season, without the hassle of planning a major feast. The turkey’s there, tender and moist, stuffed with apple-soaked raisins, brown sugar, carrots, all great fall flavors. And then you add the Panko bread crumbs…” Here, Tony pauses and lets out a long sigh. It’s clear to see that he is happy with his recipe choice. “It’s also a perfect dish for smaller groups, like newlyweds, empty-nesters, or small families.”
Before heading outside to play with our son, Giovanni, he adds this seasonal anecdote.
“The other day, as I was driving to Sarello’s, traffic actually stopped for a moment on First Avenue in Moorhead, just to let a group of wild turkeys pass. They actually stopped traffic – only in Fargo-Moorhead!”
This recipe for Stuffed Turkey Breast really has a lot going for it. Elegant in its presentation, it’s also easy to assemble, and can be prepared up to two days in advance. And while the flavors may not be Italian, Tony has managed to work his culture into the dish via the Scaloppine technique used to prepare the turkey cutlets, which ensures their tenderness and fast cooking time. To complement the turkey breast, Tony pairs the dish with a Pomegranate Butter Sauce.
Sweet Potato Cheesecake
My recipe of choice, Sweet Potato Cheesecake, has been a seasonal favorite at Sarello’s for years. Our guests are always pleasantly surprised when first tasting this dessert, which has become one of our most requested recipes. We love the versatility of sweet potatoes in cooking, and this dish also puts a new spin on a classic Thanksgiving food.
Velvety smooth in texture, Sweet Potato Cheesecake is bursting with autumnal flavors of cinnamon, brown sugar, and of course, sweet potatoes. The key to this recipe is in its preparation. Roasting the sweet potatoes in the oven first helps to bring out their natural sweetness, and makes such a difference in the overall flavor.
To further enhance this dish, we prepare our own Caramel Sauce and drizzle it around the plate before placing a slice of cake on top. Add a dollop of whipped cream and some strawberry slices, and your guests will soon be asking you for the recipe.
Just as I was finishing up this column, Tony walked into the kitchen and shared this bit of humor with me.
“Every day is Thanksgiving in this house, when you’re married to a turkey.” Hmmm…who’s the turkey?